SINGAPORE – David Puig, consistently on point since joining the Asian Tour last year with six top-15 finishing in just nine starts, once again shot a low-number today to take the opening-round lead in the US$2 million International Series Singapore.
The Arizona-based Spaniard shot a scorching bogey-free 8-under 64 on the intimidating Tampines Course at Tanah Merah Country Club on a hot and humid day.
Chinese-Taipei’s Chang Wei-lun and Thais Rattanon Wannasrichan and Itthipat Buranatanyarat returned 67s in the seventh International Series event this season.
Puig is due a win on the Asian Tour having consistently been in the running since turning professional in September last year, including in his last three appearances: he tied for fourth in the International Series England, tied for 14th in the St Andrew Bay Championship, and tied for 11th in last month’s Shinhan Donghae Open, on each occasion threatening to win.
As a member of Torque GC in the LIV Golf League, he shared the first- and second-round leads at LIV Golf Greenbrier. Since August, he has led or shared the lead after seven different rounds on his global playing schedule.
And he made the perfect start today with three birdies on the front side, and five on the back, including three in the last four.
“Tough course, tough conditions,” said the 21-year-old, whose Torque team will be looking for its fifth win of the LIV Golf League season next week in Jeddah.
“It is true that some holes were a little shorter today, but still a tough course, firm greens. I hit it very good, and I think the front nine I played very good. I putted three times for eagle, and shot three under with 17 putts, I missed one green. On the back nine I played solid as well, I hit good shots, and made more putts, so yes very happy.
“I have been hitting it pretty good off the tee this year and this is a long course and there are some holes where you need to be accurate and precise but there are others where they kind of open and with my distance I have a little bit of an advantage to that.”
In his very first event on the Asian Tour last year, the International Series Morocco he came home in third having been the overnight leader, and that set the tone for a consistent run of high-quality golf.
He added: “I have played good these past couple of months. I have had a lot of good rounds and couldn’t get it done in all of these tournaments, but you know I keep learning. I know I am a good player and that’s why I am here and why I play on LIV, I know that, and also the scores tell that. I practice hard and I think I am doing all the things right, with my team as well.”
Chang is in-form at the moment – he tied for fifth in the Mercuries Taiwan Masters last week – despite carrying an injury.
“I injured my right ankle last week,” said Chang, a winner on the Asian Development Tour in 2019, at the Charming Yeangder event.
“I am not limping, but I felt uncomfortable through the round today. I hurt my ankle during the third-round last week, and I just played through it on the final day.
“Didn’t think much of it and I played well to get a top-five finish on Sunday. That gave me a lot of confidence coming to this week. I brought the injury into this week but it’s my third time playing here now so I am familiar with the course. Just play shot by shot. My ankle’s injured and I can’t do much about it. So just play the best I can.”
He began on hole 10 and turned in two under thanks to back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16.
He added: “Those back-to-back birdies there got me going. The course is in great condition, as always. There is nothing I can nitpick about the course.”
He dropped a shot on the second, but rallied with gains on three, five, eight and nine.
Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) and International Series OOM leader Andy Ogletree from the United States came in with a 68, along with Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki, Koreans Bio Kim, Meenwhee Kim and Taehee Lee, New Zealander Ben Campbell, and Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Suteepat Prateeptienchai and Atiruj Winaicharoenchai.
Defending champion Nitithorn Thippong from Thailand returned a 71, as did former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho – winner of the individual gold medal at the Asian Games last week.
Jaco Ahlers, winner of last week’s Mercuries Taiwan Masters, fired a 72, while Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell signed for a 74.
Singapore amateur Ryan Ang finished the day as the leading local player after carding a 70. Ang was the joint leading Singaporean in last week’s Asian Games, along with James Leow, in a tie for 12th. Leow shot even par today.